Monday, April 25, 2016

I got a fever! And the only prescription.. is more purple! Or, what I wore to a screening of Purple Rain

This week's cover of The New Yorker

On Sunday, a group of friends was going to watch Purple Rain on the big screen. I don't think I'd seen it since it came out. I wasn't a kid--I was working full time and mostly expressed my Inner Eighties Kid with things like a cobalt blue wool overcoat (does anyone else remember how huge cobalt blue was in the 80s?) or a magenta and black houndstooth scarf with my boring gray tropical weight Brooks Brothers suit.

I can't remember if I dressed for the occasion. I hope I at least wore my burgundy leather jacket to the screening. But if I remember correctly, I went after work. So it was probably a suit.

At any rate, here we are, 32 years later (!) and it's my second trip to a movie theater to watch Purple Rain. Unfortunately, my purple clothes—and I do own quite a few—are mostly a winter phenomenon. Yesterday, for whatever dumb reasons the weather guys on TV would like to bore me about, it was 80 degrees. I really had to scrounge to find anything purple. I wore

with black ballerina flats. I carried

and accessorized the SHIT out of it with

My makeup included a couple of shades of violet eyeshadow I don't usually indulge myself with, a plummier-than-usual blush, and this TRANSCENDENT lipgloss.

MAC dazzle glass in Boys Go Crazy

which I really have no business owning. But I think His Purpleness would have approved.

Let's Go Crazy and have another shot of Boys Go Crazy!

I told my friends that it was a limited edition shade, but I was wrong! It's still available! RUN DON'T WALK as they say on a different blog.

Of course, I was completely outclassed by one woman in my group. She was rocking a

1) dark purple
2) lace

sleeveless blouse with

3) ruffles

that she got at a thrift shop for

4) one dollar.

But I like to think I came in second.

Purple Rain was amazing. Again. And Prince was amazing. Always.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Very resistible

Wow, the internet is totally overflowing with stuff I don't want!

For starters, how about that Marimekko collaboration with Target? I totally had my hopes up with that one. My stepmother was the opposite of the boring, G&T-drinking tennis-playing people I grew up with. She owned an art gallery and a crazy gift shop where she sold cool mid-century modern stuff, and she wore tons of Marimekko.

But there was no poppy print.

And the colors were either drab

or weirdly loud and all over the place.


People appear to have forgotten the Evil Side of the 1970s. But now this collection is giving us post-traumatic flashbacks.

Next, we have Urban Decay and their misguided attempt to color the world Naked. Here's a clue for you, Urban Decay: everyone else in the world already has all the Naked (nude, starkers, bare, raw, unclothed and disrobed) makeup they need.

Stop me if you've heard the one about the lady from New York who moves to Boston. She asked one of her new acquaintances, "Where do Bostonian ladies buy their hats?" And the new acquaintance replied. "Bostonian ladies have their hats."

Exactly. Everyone HAS their Naked palettes. Even I have two of the goddamned things. But the Urban Decay Naked Vault keeps wafting back into stores. Who could possibly be said to need even one Naked palette at this point, let alone all six?

All the Naked eyeshadow palettes you could ever want, and then some. $180 at Ulta.

Wow, it's lucky I'm not trying to sell ads on my blog, because seriously, what idiot would place an ad with me? Where's my consumerism? What's wrong with me? THIS IS AMURRICA!

OK, I'll lighten up.

I don't want to buy them, but this, from the Gap website, is mesmerizing.

Also, have you seen this adorable video for The Body Shop's new English Rose line?

They're selling it in the States. Maybe I'll buy some. There. I hope you're satisfied.

p.s. The Body Shop is offering a promo code: 42.0% off your purchase with Code HAPPY420.

p.p.s. Happy Mother's Day to you, your Majesty.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Korean Skin Care for the Middle-Aged: Cleansing, Step One

I've mentioned before that the idea of switching to a Korean skin care regimen is a bit overwhelming. I'm using "overwhelming" in the understated, stiff-upper-lip New England WASP sense of (choose one)

  1. Anxiety-producing
  2. Overly-complicated
  3. May I please just stick my face in the sand like an ostrich instead of spending weeks trying to master this stuff?
  4. Is this going to be on the exam?
  5. All of the above

To cut down on the free-floating anxiety, I've suggested switching to a Korean style cleansing routine as a great way to sneak up on the subject. After all, cleansing is pretty simple. Everyone cleans their face. And switching to a Korean cleansing routine is a hell of a lot easier than embarking on the whole shebang: a nightly skin care routine that involves several layers of products and takes 45 minutes.

Double cleansing

Asian cleansing, by contrast, only takes two steps: an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser. The oil-based cleanser breaks down makeup and sunscreen and rinses it away; the water-based cleanser removes every last trace of old makeup, sunscreen, soil, and excess sebum.

So what makes Asian cleansing different from Western cleansing? The answer is: not that much. That is, if you remember the way your grandmother cleaned her face.

These videos give a picture into the skincare advice women were getting in the middle of the last century. They were double-cleansing, they just didn't call it that. It's kind of like the guy in the Molière play who discovered he'd been speaking prose his whole life.

I'm not saying that their routines are the same as what's going on nowadays—Korean women would faint dead away at the idea of washing their faces with soap—but the principle remains the same: use oil to remove the makeup, then remove the makeup remover.

And notice how the ladies in the videos have their hair protected with special turbans? Well, Asian skin care also includes special head gear.

Etude House My Beauty Lovely Etti Hair Band, image courtesy of Jolse Beauty Blog

See how we're really all the same? All looking idiotic in our eternal quest for beauty? Isn't it heartwarming?


About Double Cleansing

Here's a dirty little secret you won't hear if you read Asian beauty blogs. You can use Western skin care products to double-cleanse your skin.

Well, of course you can. Look at the amount of cold cream that is being lavished onto the women's faces in those videos. It's off the charts. It makes me want to run screaming from the room.

I suppose you could use cold cream. If you want. In the past, I've used Pond's, Albolene, Caswell Massey Cucumber, and even Jergen's incredibly retro-looking All-Purpose Cream. But as I've mentioned before, the general ookiness of the cream and all those greasy tissues get pretty unpleasant.

And you don't have to do that anymore. Asian oil cleansers are far more elegant and easy to use. You use a pump or two on dry skin, massage it into your face to dissolve the makeup and sunscreen, add a little water, massage some more, and then rinse it all off. The oil emulsifies with the water and rinses cleanly off. I bought my first bottle of oil cleanser at a Japanese supermarket, but nowadays, companies like DHC and SKII are readily available at Sephora and Nordstrom.

On top of that, you can get Asian-style cleansing oils very inexpensively from American manufacturers like Neutrogena, Burt's Bees, Philosophy, Clinique, Julep, Bareminerals, Whish, and Juice Beauty, as well as European manufacturers like The Body Shop, Boot's, and Lancôme.

I'm saving the best for last

Double cleansing takes time, but it's worth it. I have dry, aging skin, and acne has never been a concern. And yet, I've started double-cleansing every night, without fail.

This is because even when I haven't been wearing makeup, I'm certain to be wearing some kind of SPF-containing sunscreen. And in my experience, the higher the SPF, the more pore-clogging that stuff gets.

Don't even get me started on waterproof sunscreens and what they do to my pores. I'm pretty sure they are the guilty party with the milia I was complaining about not too long ago. But double cleansing and stepped up exfoliation took care of the problem. No more using a facial wipe or some micellar water on a cotton pad and then falling into bed for me. It feels weird to say this, but in this way, at least (mind you, I'm not talking about the crinkles around my eyes, etc.,) I'm enjoying the best skin of my life.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

My mockery will save you money! A public service announcement.

Hey Internet--did you miss me? I missed you!

I'm back from a few days in Washington DC where I was attending some extremely sumptuous events at venues where, if they really knew what I was like, they'd never let me through the front door. Then I came back to Chicago, where I celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Joffrey Ballet.

My new grayish greenish Downton Abbey dress came into play twice ... once in DC and once in Chicago, and shhhh, let this be our secret, Internet, but I just hung it up and aired it between wearings. It's almost as if I lived during the Downton Abbey time period, where I'm pretty sure people smelled a lot worse then we do now.

Oh, and by the way--on my way to Dupont Circle, I noticed that my dress was the exact same shade as the upholstery in my Uber driver's Toyota. So if I ever want to describe the shade exactly, I can find out the name for the greeny-gray upholstery in a Toyota Camry, and Bob's your uncle.

Anyway. The public service I want to perform is this. Remember when I was mocking the Bobbi Brown lip color palette?

Well, it's currently on sale at Nordstrom. It's only marked down ten percent, from $220 to $198, but I like to take credit for it anyway.

Even if you're not interested in the Bobbi Brown lip palette, you might be tempted by the other stuff Nordstrom marked down. There are pages of beauty and fragrance products in their sale section, all a foolish attempt to disguise the fact that my blog has put the fear of God in them. I make fun of a product they're selling, and they put it on sale. Coincidence? I don't think so. Sure, they bulk up the proceedings with a boatload of products that I haven't mocked, but my point holds. I am the boss of Nordstrom, and they tremble in fear at my frown. I see through your bravado, Nordstrom, and you don't fool me.

Still, Internet, you might want to check out Nordstrom's 10 percent discount on lots of beauty loot

as well as their Estee Lauder GWP with the cute Harper's Bazaar makeup bag.

I mean, yes, here in Chicago, where the sales tax is 10 percent, this discount amounts to chump change. Still, in a Nordstrom-free zone, with no state and city sales taxes, and with eBates offering a bit more off, this could be worth a look.

After all, Mother's Day is coming!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Korean Skincare for the Middle-Aged, Part Deux

Not me. Sephora's idea of K-Beauty
I'm taking advantage of my trip to DC to Think Deep Thoughts about a variety of subjects, some ridiculously shallow. Korean skincare is one of them.

Here's the thing. If you start exploring Korean skin care by reading the Asian Beauty subreddit, visiting various blogs, or buying the books I mentioned in my first post on the subject, not only are you going to experience a steep learning curve, you're also going to encounter a level of enthusiasm that borders on fanaticism. Many of these people have more fervor than the average religious convert. They have found the One True Path and will tolerate no deviation from it.

Eventually, you'll feel a certain pressure to rush out and replace your Western skincare with Korean products, because Western skincare is a bunch of crap. Obviously.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

Not everyone starts their skincare journey with problem skin

People with normal, healthy skin could benefit from Korean skincare practices, but you don't really hear about that when you dip into the available information. Most of the people I've been reading got interested in Korean skin care because they had skin problems. Most have acne, some have rosacea, quite a few have issues with hyper-pigmentation or sensitive, reactive skin. Only a few are dealing solely with the stuff that's bothering me: dehydration, dryness, and the fact that I'm not as young as I used to be.

Admittedly, this is a non-scientific sampling, but judging from my family and friends, there's a very good chance that you're in the same boat. Your skin may not be as plump and smooth and glowing as it was when you were 23, but it isn't a huge problem. You've actually been known to leave the house without wearing foundation.

But Korean skin care can make whatever you have better. And better is always good.

Do Re Mi

Fanaticism aside, there's no reason to overwhelm yourself. Skincare is like fitness. You can decide you want a drastic change in your fitness level. You join a gym and start doing CrossFit five times a week, swallow handfuls of supplements, and say no to carbs for weeks at a time. Or, you can decide to stop buying cookies and go for a half-hour walk every day. The choice is yours.

What level of change feels right? Unless you're dealing with big problems, with skincare, you can start by replacing a product you've been using with a product that adheres to Korean skincare guidelines.

Cleansers are a great way to do this, because we all use a certain amount of cleanser and need to replace it fairly frequently. You can find cleansers that adhere to Korean skincare guidelines very easily—and [gasp!] they can even be produced by Western companies. So switching up cleansers is a Very Good Place to Start.

More on that next time.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Update on the new evening dress

Remember when I asked for help picking out a new dress (or two)? I forgot to let you know how that worked out.

There were only three left to chose from by the time I ordered. Luckily, the "Downton Abbey" one worked.

And it's even prettier in person.

Some of our other favorites were failures, but not for the obvious reasons (such as that the built-in belt might look awkward, or that short sleeves tend to emphasize the bust.) You can't tell from looking at the pictures (damn you, internet shopping!) but some of them, like this one

had surprisingly thin straps holding up the underdress. My bra straps would have shown on either side of the spaghetti straps.

So here I am in our nation's capital with two evening dresses—I also packed this black knit one because it was so ridiculously expensive. Eventually, say, in 30 years, someone will compliment me on it. "Love your dress--is that St. John? I used to love them," and I'll realize that St. John Knits had gone out of business decades ago. I will blush in shame, and due to its inherent discreet good taste, my dress, ladylike to the last, will tactfully vaporize itself.

Meanwhile, I feel constrained to wear it every chance I get.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

This overpriced makeup equipment fad must stop

Welcome to another post in which Auntie Haul rants about consumerism.

Today I was over at Sephora checking out new arrivals, as one does. I spotted this.

beautyblender sur.face simple, $30.00

It's a clear acrylic palette and palette knife for mixing ... foundation? I guess? And then holding the results up to your face to check the shade. The purpose being, according to the single review up on the site at this point, to keep one from accidentally wiping makeup off onto one's clothes.


First of all, have you ever wiped makeup onto your clothes? I haven't. I have spilled powder onto the top of my vanity. I have tapped an eyeshadow brush before applying to make sure I didn't get shadow fallout on my cheeks. I have gotten a sploodge of mascara over or under my eyes. But foundation on my clothes? No. There are these things called "tissues" and "cleansing wipes" designed to prevent that sort of thing.

More common sense

May I call your attention to this picture of Myrna Loy? She's brushing her hair while seated at a rather prosaic-looking vanity table. She's wearing a peignoir, a term we don't hear much anymore. It's a robe you wear when you're combing your hair, derived from the French word "peigner," to comb. On the other side of the pond, they tend to call things like this "dressing gowns." Here in the States, we talk about "bathrobes." The point remains that there are perfectly good and useful garments designed to be worn while you're grooming yourself, and if you've developed the habit of wiping makeup onto your clothes, I suggest you get one.

These garments are also useful for keeping toothpaste dribbles off one's bosom. Just saying.

Back to the palette

OK, so let's say you regularly mix foundation shades. Maybe you're even a [gasp!] makeup artist. Could there be a source of palettes other than Sephora?

Why, yes. Yes, there is. It's called an artist supply store.

Blick clear acrylic palette $9.89

If you feel intimidated at the thought of shopping at an artist's supply store, you can find the same thing on Amazon for $7.99. You can also find a somewhat smaller version specifically designed for makeup complete with palette knife on Amazon for $7.35.

So hey, it's your money, and if you want to pay $30 for a small sheet of plastic, and if you're comfortable with paying an extra $20 because this particular small sheet of plastic has pink trim and a cute, all-lower-case name, feel free. Who am I to judge?

Auntie Haul, that's who. /drops mic